LEGEND

Edmonton Oiler fans have had the privilege to watch Ryan Smyth in all his glory. From an energetic young winger full of piss and vinegar to a weathered veteran still full of piss and vinegar, no Oiler of his era has bled for the Oildrop like Ryan Smyth. Earlier this season, there was chatter about Smyth being done, ready for retirement, on his last legs.

This just in: change the headline.

Ryan Smyth’s current role is to help in any way he can. When Shawn Horcoff and Eric Belanger were injured earlier this season, Smyth stepped into the center role and played out of position. When young turks like Magnus Paajarvi (last Saturday, in photo) were having some offensive difficulties, Smyth played the mentor and playmaker role and helped in that way.

Last night, he did it again. This time, the man who may one day play the position he owned for more than a decade–skill left winger on a scoring line–went to the front of the net because he knew that’s where the action is. And Teemu Hartikainen cashed on a pass from mentor Ryan Smyth, scoring a massive goal for the young and inconsistent franchise.

Ryan Smyth maintains much of what made him a great player–sublime passing ability, intensity, skill, the brains and gumption to go to the net–and appears to be passing those skills along to young men like Hartikainen.. I’m pleased to see the lessons are beginning to take–Hartikainen is pretty damn good battling down low now–and especially pleased that Smyth is back in an Oiler uniform to play this role with his usual thoroughness and passion.

PERSONALITY

The other day, Mike Keenan trashed the Oilers, saying the club has no personality. I say balderdash–any team with Ryan Smyth on the roster can claim at least one thing–if you’re going to beat them you’d better pack a lunch because it’s going to take all day.

A year ago, the coach relied on Smyth more than any other LW on the club. This season, Taylor Hall is playing more with the Russian rookie not far behind. The others will catch him someday, and he’ll eventually toil on the 4line, penalty kill and watch from upstairs on some nights.

However, Ryan Smyth has plenty to offer, on the ice and in terms of passing along valuable information to the next generation.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

I love the fact that Ryan Smyth is getting every last drop from his career, and am very pleased that even this late into things he can still contribute to the offensive end of the game. He is not the player we knew a decade ago, time has taken some of the things that made him great and at some point we all have feet of clay.

I’m going to enjoy watching this Ryan Smyth just as I enjoyed the previous one. He is a splendid example to the youth of this team–how can they give any less when a legend works so hard?–and he is still one of them, battling in a war on ice every night to win the day.

Ryan Smyth is an NHL hockey player. We should all enjoy his wonderful skills, and be thrilled he’s passing these great lessons on to the next generation.

Ryan Smyth once said he would bring Stanley to Edmonton.

Maybe these young Oilers will one day bring Stanley to Ryan Smyth and our city, as payment for lessons learned from a real life legend.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Some serious romanticizing going on here LT. Ryan Smyth is a quality winger no doubt, but to claim that any team who plays a Smyth team better pack their lunch because “if you’re going to beat them you’d better pack a lunch because it’s going to take all day” is just silly.

    I think it’s pretty obvious that most teams look at the Oilers of late as an easy 2 points. A chance to start their backup and maybe get their 3/4 line guys some extra minutes. I certainly don’t think anyone looks at an upcoming Oiler’s game and fears a long, tough game against Smyth.

    • a lg dubl dubl

      I disagree. If you have been watching, most teams play their number #1 goalie against the Oilers and then they put their #2 goalie in against the Flames.

      Smyth is not the same player that once was, but he still works his ass off and that is what is valuable. Show the young guys work ethic.

      Great piece Lowetide. Lets hope he brings it tonight against the Hawks! Go Oilers! #BreakTheStreak

  • Milli

    Great article LT! I am real happy to see Smyth return to form, and lead the kids along. What did that clown down in Calgary say? Because this guy will only ever be a HERO in EDMONTON, nothing else!

  • Totally agree and it’s to bad it took Hall’s suspension to put Smyth back with RNH & Ebs . I have been saying if your not scoring at evens make 3 lines moving Smyth to RNH ; Hemmer & Gags + ?; Hall,Yak & Belanger (Horc when back) . Krueger needs to try something at Evens and leave them together for PP .

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Love Smyth, Love the story of Smyth BUT a 37 year playing 20 minutes a game on a rebuildind team that is currently out of the play-offs??

    I hope the 2013 story moves more to mentorship and less to a role on the top 3 lines.

  • Spydyr

    Smyth is a legend but even Gretzky retired. He knew his time was up. Hope Smyth can carry a couple good games for the rest of this year and next. He just looks tired most nights. That body of his has taken a beating and then some. Long live the Mullet but don’t water down the memories by staying too long.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    There is some evidence that Smyth can no longer play against the other team’s top line. That said, as long as he can handle the second toughs there is a role for him to play.

  • Spydyr

    I think that the comments by Rett Warrner were taken out of context………it is my understanding that he was referring more to the handling of Ryan Smyth as being a joke, than Ryan himself.

    At the time Ryan was just benched……which prompted the response from Rett. In any case, Ryan Smyth handled the question when posed about Rett….with complete class.

    The guy may not be fast, but find me a more clever forward on the Oilers. It’s now becoming obvious even the Oilers young gun army, needs a general.

    Ryan Smyth will eventually become a part of the OIlers management team……..we will still need him after he is done playing hockey.

  • Spydyr

    Let’s also add the lone goal on a greasy wrap around against Minny when reflecting on his recent play in a critical home stand. Plenty of lessons for all on the team to follow

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I know the team waits to hang a players # after he gets into the HoF but imo Smytty should be hung up there right after he retires just on the leadership, dedication, and perserverance he brings, and it would be a good reminder for the young guns too.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    I think someone is drinking the Smyth cool-aid here. Hope youre not implying in any way, shape, or form that Ryan Smyth is a legend – cause I hate to break it to ya – he’s not! Now if one were to measure his value in this city off the ice – well then perhaps you may have something. i.e Ryan Smyth is a legendary community minded man who has given countless hours of his time to people in need. That would be accurate. On the ice he is merely a player who is at the end of his career and for the most part has had a very average year thus far – no more no less.

    • a lg dubl dubl

      so your tellin me that 3/4 of his almost 400 goals, which he should achive next year and 800 points that he got while with the Oilers bustin his ass(and teeth) in front of the net dont mean poop!?

      your drunk, shush up

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    It’s nice to see Smyth getting it going offensively. More of our players need to adopt his style of play if our 5 on 5 scoring is ever going to improve. Play him and Jones with some of our skill players and drive the opposing goaltenders crazy.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Seventeen games in it took a benching to wake him up by humiliation. This vanity drives him to play better. Lets see how he plays these next nine games in front of fans who could care less about his legacy.

    He should have retired this past summer – having never been a healthy scratch ever. And no way should he play another year after this.

    As for his future as a coach of some type. I say good luck to him. On a team other than the oilers – we have too many retired oilers working for the team already. Go earn you credentials as a coach somewhere where you won’t be thought by many as having gotten the job because of your history with the team.